The Pittsburgh Steelers won a pair of Super Bowl rings with Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger. In 2014 though, most of the team hasn’t been close to a Super Bowl. There are some good signs, but all the pieces will have to click in order for Pittsburgh to make it back to the playoffs.
The Steelers offense is in decent shape, coming off of a late season surge in 2013. Like many NFL teams, Pittsburgh is trying to pick up the pace, get plays off more quickly, and keep defense from substituting at will. That means Ben Roethlisberger gets to make more calls at the line, something the established veteran can handle with ease. The Steelers defense though, is a shadow of it’s former self, or was in 2013. With new players on that side of the ball, Tomlin obviously felt the need to rebuild. We’ll see how it all plays out but the 2014 Steelers schedule shouldn’t be a major obstacle.
The Steelers schedule begins with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Cleveland be no problem. Baltimore is an AFC North opponent though and this will be a tough game. From there the Steelers play Carolina, a very winnable game if the defense can contain Cam Newton and his new receivers, none of whom should strike fear in Tomlin’s heart. The next four games should be wins. Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Houston, the last on Monday Night and in Pittsburgh, you can go ahead and pencil in.
Week 8 brings the Colts and I’m calling that a loss unless the Steelers new defense can handle Andrew Luck and I don’t think they can. Another 50/50 game with Baltimore and the Steelers meet with the Jets and Titans. Two wins. It gets a little rough now so hold on. Pittsburgh must play the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field and unless the weather is terrible that’s a loss. Cincinnati on the road and the Falcons on the road will also be tough. Finally, Kansas City and the Bengals finish things up.
I’m seeing the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers schedule as resulting in 10 wins and six losses. Maybe that’s generous for a team that finished 8-8 last season and made no major moves, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Mike Tomlin will have his young defense on the upswing by the time the rough part of the season begins.Eric Drouant